Illinois softball swept by Maryland in final series

Avrey+Steiner+up+to+bat+as+Gabi+Robles+starts+to+steal+first+against+Maryland+on+Saturday.++

Angel Saldivar

Avrey Steiner up to bat as Gabi Robles starts to steal first against Maryland on Saturday.

By Ben Fader, Assistant Sports Editor

The Illini (28-26, 6-16) hosted the final series of the regular season at Eichelberger Field over the weekend, with the Maryland Terrapins (36-16, 11-11) visiting Champaign. With Big Ten tournament qualification potentially on the line, the Illini were swept, and none of the games were particularly close.

Friday night featured the closest score: a 6-2 defeat. Sophomore pitcher Lauren Wiles got the start in the circle, surrendering five runs, three of which were earned, in 3.2 innings. Fifth-year pitcher Addy Jarvis came in relief to finish the game. Jarvis pitched well, but it didn’t matter, as she received no run support.

The Illini were held scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning, where junior shortstop Megan Ward smacked a double to center, driving in two. The two RBI were the most runs in a game for the Illini this weekend.

Game two began slightly differently, with the Illini scoring in the third inning. Sophomore left fielder Stevie Meade laced a double in the right-center gap, making the score 4-1. However, the Illini would go on to strand her and three other runners on the day, while the Terrapins brought four more runs across the plate, securing the series with an 8-1 win.

With inclement weather looming, Sunday’s finale was moved up to the late morning, but that didn’t stop the Terrapin bats. A solo shot sparked a three-run second inning before a three-run fifth on their way to a 6-1 victory. The only run for the Illini was produced by fifth-year second baseman Avery Steiner. The RBI single was one of five hits on the day for the Illini in a series that they want to forget.

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    While the series didn’t feature any wins, there were some nice moments. The team held senior day on Saturday, recognizing players in their final home games with the program. Those celebrated include outfielder Danielle Davis, infielder Bryanna Nykaza, infielder Miranda Gallardo, third baseman Delaney Rummell, outfielder Gabi Robles, pitcher Sydney Sickels, first baseman Kailee Powell, utility player Morgan Scivally and Steiner.

    The Illini also qualified for the Big Ten tournament, which they will host this upcoming week. Although they didn’t win any games, the Purdue Boilermakers and Michigan State Spartans also failed to pick up the necessary wins, allowing the Illini to keep the No. 12 seed.

    The Illini will play the fifth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers on Wednesday at 7 p.m. This is the first-ever Big Ten tournament at Eichelberger Field, as the top 12 teams in the conference will all fight for the conference crown in Champaign.

     

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